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Miraculous rally ends in heartbreak for Bobcats

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By Brody Jones

A few years back, Disney released a film called “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” 

After Friday night, it appears the Walt Disney executives were a bit premature in releasing a film with that title as the Sunbright Tigers had a 35-6 lead at one point in the third quarter, but had to fight off a furious Oliver Springs rally and answer the many scores by the Bobcats in retaliation to win on a last second 26-yard field goal by Derek Miller for a 53-52 victory in what can only be aptly described as an instant classic. 

“I thought it was a good game, our kids fought hard and played their butts off,” said a deflated Oliver Springs head coach Wiley Brackett. “There were a few calls that didn’t go our way at the end, but that’s just the way it goes.”

Both teams failed to pick up a first down on their initial drives, but the Bobcats scored first on a 3-play, 68-yard drive, capped off by a Garrett Miller to Austin West 70-yard touchdown strike. 

The two point try fell short, making the score 6-0 with 8:07 left in the first quarter. 

Sunbright responded with authority. 

Andrew Henes returned the kickoff 62 yards to the Bobcat 34 yard line to set up a 2-play, 34-yard drive with Jessie England running in the 12-yard touchdown score. 

Miller’s PAT was good, making the score 7-6 for Sunbright with 7:05 left in the opening quarter. 

After Oliver Springs failed to pick up a first down, the Tigers marched eight plays and 58 yards to score on a 2-yard run by England. 

Miller’s PAT bounced off the left goal post, making the score 13-6 with 1:32 left in the first quarter. 

Sunbright’s Timmy Turner then picked off an Oliver Springs pass and returned the ball to the Oliver Springs 10. It took England just two plays to score on a 3-yard run. He also converted the two point play to make the score 21-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Oliver Springs again failed to pick up a first down, giving the Tigers a 7-play, 44-yard drive that resulted in a 39-yard field goal attempt by Miller that fell short of its final destination. 

After an exchange of punts, Sunbright managed to score on a 4-play, 57-yard drive when England found Turner for a 26-yard touchdown strike.

Miller’s PAT was good, making the score 28-6 with 48 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers started the second half with a 9-play, 71-yard drive, scoring on an England to Andrew Henes 11-yard touchdown pass. 

Miller’s PAT was good, making the score 35-6 with 7:46 left in the third quarter and for all intents and purposes, this game seemed over. 

But to those Bobcats fans that made a beeline for the exits early on, they missed what was one heck of a comeback. 

Oliver Springs responded with a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by  Miller. 

Miller found Jordan Romero for the two-point conversion to make the score 35-14 with 3:17 to go in the third quarter. 

Opportunity came knocking for the Bobcats after Nathan Simpson recovered an errant fumble by the Tigers at the Bobcat 47 yard line. 

It took the ‘Cats just two plays to score when Romero made a run to the left side and dove in for a 30-yard touchdown run. 

Miller found McBee for the two point conversion to make the score 35-22 with 26.6 seconds left in the third quarter. 

Sunbright got the ball back and managed to move the chains before the end of the third quarter with the score at 35-22.

On the opening play of the fourth quarter, Oliver Springs’ Seth Morgan picked off a Sunbright pass, returning it to the Sunbright 8 yard line. It took merely one play for Jordan Romero to chug his way through the Tiger defense for an 8-yard touchdown scamper on an option play. 

Miller found John Simms for the two-point conversion, making the score 35-30 in favor of the Tigers with 11:29 left in the game. 

Oliver Springs got another break when Morgan recovered a Tiger fumble at the 50 yard line. 

It took the ‘Cats seven plays to cover those 50 yards and score on a Miller one yard sneak. 

Miller found Romero for the two-point conversion, making the score 38-35 with 8:18 left in the game.

Sunbright responded with a 3-play, 57-yard drive, scoring on an 18-yard L.C. Satterfield touchdown run. 

Miller’s PAT was good, making the score 42-38 with 7:07 left in the game.

But the Bobcats didn’t come from that far behind to give up without responding. Oliver Springs took five plays to cover 63 yards to score on another one yard sneak by Miller. 

The two-point pass was batted down to make the score 44-42 in favor of the Bobcats with 4:45 left in the game. 

Sunbright was left in a position where they had to go for it on fourth down, but were turned  away by a Michael Aliff sack. 

The Bobcats then took three plays to march 44 yards to score on a 40-yard to run around the right side by Romero. 

Miller ran in the two-point conversion to seemingly put the game out of reach at 52-42 with 1:52 left in the game. 

The victory seemed to be sealed by a Ray Efferson interception for the Bobcats… or was it? 

Things started to get bizarre in the next minute and a half of the contest when Oliver Springs turned the ball over on a rare call where apparently the Bobcats moved the ball before they could get an offensive play off, thus giving the Tigers possession after a fumble.

The Tigers responded with a 4-play, 60-yard drive with England finding Turner one more time, from five yards out. 

England ran in the all-important two-point play and with 23.9 seconds left in the game, the game was 52-50 in favor of Oliver Springs.

Depending on your outlook on the onside kick, it was either a lucky break if you were a Sunbright fan or a controversial call if you were a Bobcats fan.But all that mattered after the squib kick was when the mass of humanity and dust settled around the loose football, the officials signaled that Sunbright had possession of the ball.

To make matters worse for the Bobcats, a personal foul penalty would mark off half the distance to the Bobcat 11 yard line and that’s where the Tigers had the ball with 18.5 seconds left.

After a couple of failed attempts to score a touchdown, the game came down to a 26-yard field goal attempt for Miller with 3.9 seconds left in the game. The snap went off, the kick went up and the ball skirted just inside the right goal post to end the game with the biggest field goal in Miller’s young life as time expired with the final score at 53-52. 

“Our kids played hard and didn’t quit even after they were down  35-6,” Brackett said afterwards.

Sunbright was led on offense by an amazing performance by England (21-34, 324 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) through the air and 16 carries for 94 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to total 418 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. 

Sunbright was led in receiving by Turner (11-111-2 TDs). 

Oliver Springs was led on offense through the air by Miller (10-19, 137 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and on the ground by Romero (13- 138-3 TDs) and Miller (18-113-3 TDs) to give Miller 250 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. 

Austin West (3-99-1 TD) and Romero (3-21) were the leading Bobcat receivers while Austin Woodall (8 tackles), Morgan (7 tackles, 1 FR, 1 INT), McBee (7 tackles), Aliff (7 tackles, 1 sack), and Efferson (6 tackles, 1 INT) all played outstanding games on defense for the Bobcats. 

Sunbright had a 324- 137 advantage through the air, but lost on the ground 249-144 to the Bobcats. The final offensive yardage tally was a jaw-dropping 468 yards for the Tigers compared to 386 for the Bobcats. 

Next up for the Bobcats is a pivotal showdown with the Wartburg Bulldogs.

 “They’re  a big and physical team and we’re going have to play our best game all year to beat them,” said Coach Brackett.